Dear Bell Canada: We Hate You

All of us across Canada have been taking part in a mass experiment for the past 17 days or so.

This experiment was called The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Why is that an experiment and what does it have to do with Bell Canada?

Dear reader, I will tell you ‘cuz that’s just what kind of blogger I am – always looking out for those who don’t know.

For those of you out there who live in countries that are not named Canada, a little background is needed here.

The official Canadian network of the 2010 Olympic Games was CTV – one of only 3 national Canadian networks – and was the only Canadian source of Olympics broadcast over it’s hydra-esque collection of stations: CTV, TSN (The Sports Network), MuchMusic (the Canadian alternative to MTV), and MTV Canada (the Canadianized MTV).

CTV was formerly owned wholly by Bell Canada (now about 20%), and now you’re up to speed.

(UPDATE: Bell Canada has repurchased the entirety of CTV as of September 10th, 2010)

On the whole, the CTV broadcast of the Olympics was completely and totally shit – I’m not gonna mince words here.

The fact that the Canadian-origin Olympic broadcasts were shit is endemic of Bell Canada’s general attitude towards the Canadian public and none of us should have been really surprised at the epic failure of the endeavor.

The technologies employed for the Olympics broadcasts were seriously lacking when compared to the station most Canadians turned to when comparable programming was on offer: NBC.

Why is that?

The answer – to put it simply – is competition.

In the United States of America, NBC had the sole rights for broadcasting the Olympic games to the entire country – but they had to deal with new shows or counter programming from their two rivals, namely ABC and CBS.

NBC was in a position where they had to use absolute top notch video, audio, and graphical technology to make the Olympics palatable to the average American to ensure good Nielsen ratings performance against shows like CSI and LOST.

I give a tip of my metaphorical hat to Mr. Zucker, the president of NBC, for making these strong decisions and reaping the benefits.

However, the corporate masters at CTV didn’t really see the need to go all out on the technical standards because they had the Canadian viewers by the balls – so to speak.

Why?

Two things.

Patriotism and lack of choices.

If a Canadian wanted to watch the games, they (at least in the heads of CTV masters) would have no other option than to watch the CTV family coverage.

And what Canadian DIDN’T want to watch the Olympics hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia – which happens to be in CANADA?

What Canadian citizen didn’t want to watch our Canadian Olympians win more gold medals than any other country in the history of the Games?

There was simply no choice for a lot of Canadians out there across our great land (2nd largest country in the world, by the way) who only got two or three channels on their televisions due to lack of cable or satellite service.

You see, CTV’s corporate masters give it lots of money to spend on licensing of the lion’s share of top rated American shows – meaning that even if you wanted to watch American Idol or other supershows instead of the Olympics, and you didn’t have cable, you were stuck watching the Olympics because your feeble rabbit ear & coat hanger setup can’t pull in an American network.

These are the facts of the previously mentioned experiment.

I’m not really aware of the total ratings breakdown of the CTV broadcasts, but from what I gather, it was a resounding success for the big wigs at Bell Canada’s broadcast division.

Which only serves to reinforce the way that Bell Canada operates throughout our vast country.

You see, Bell Canada used to be a complete and total monopoly of the Canadian telephone system – that is up until the past fifteen years or so where the CRTC (the Canadian telecommunications authority) opened up the phone market to other companies.

Bell had to deal with outside companies all of a sudden competing with them for the Canadian telecom dollar.

American companies came in and tried to run services for a while – specifically Sprint and AT&T (both of which eventually folded their Canuck operations into the Canadian telecom company Rogers).

With the fear of losing massive monopoly sized profits, Bell Canada decided to buy CTV and it’s associated networks to shore up it’s bottom line through the often mystical art of television tradecraft.

For the average Canadian, nothing really changed on television – save for the inclusion of Bell’s corporate logo at the bottom of CTV’s original local programming credits.

And in the years since the CTV takeover, nothing has really changed either – aside from some graphical makeup applied to the CTV brand.

Why?

Bell Canada loathes Canadians – or, at the very least, holds Canadians in total and utter contempt.

For all the water that has passed under the bridge since the monopoly breakup, Bell Canada still operates as a monopoly.

An alarmingly large amount of Canada’s telecom assets are still owned and operated by Bell Canada – including (and the most troubling of all) the entire Canadian internet backbone system.

Bell Canada owns the Canadian internet – despite not having a monopoly on how people subscribe to internet services.

Independent internet service providers have to buy their backbone access through Bell’s infrastructure wholesale.

A Canadian citizen might get their internet through a local company, but that internet is ultimately controlled by Bell.

To borrow something from the Matrix movies, Bell Canada guards all the doors and they hold all the keys – at least as far as the internet is concerned.

That local ISP may not have restrictive content filters that would slow down internet applications like BitTorrent or other P2P programs – but your data traffic cultivated by those apps will still suffer speed delays because Bell Canada does filter.

So in the end, no matter who you’re signed up with, Bell Canada still controls what you do on the internet.

Also, your internet is going to suck when compared to other developed nations.

According to a recent study by eggheads at Harvard University, Canada is 18th on a list of internet service quality.

Why eighteenth?

Because Bell still operates as if it’s a monopoly – and it is the one true  internet God in the realm of Canada’s cyberspaces.

In countries like Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Sweden, or the United States (among many other countries ahead of Canada on the afore-mentioned list), internet services improve over time due to market forces in a wide open internet marketplace.

Let’s use the United States as a working example, shall we?

In the U.S. there is a plethora of companies offering internet access via their own, wholly owned data networks that are in direct competition which each other for American customer dollars.

In hopes of attracting new customers, American networks are constantly upgrading themselves to offer bigger and better products.

Case in point, Verizon has wired large portions of America with a fiber optic transmission network so they can offer blazing data speeds when compared to their competition (AT&T, Sprint, etc.) who are still relying on century-old metal wire network technology.

Competition is the heart of progress in all systems on the planet – both technological and biological.

For something to become better, it has to have incentive to do so – and as it is, Bell Canada has ZERO incentive to improve itself.

I’m sure that somewhere in Bell Canada’s executive building(s), there’s a large brass plaque that reads in bold letters WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?

Until the CRTC grows some balls and forces Bell to divest itself of the Canadian internet backbone, Bell Canada will not invest one measly dime in network upgrades than it has to – and believe me, it doesn’t spend one penny that it isn’t forced to.

Except…

Except for internet service via cellphone.

The cellphone service sector is wide open in Canada with many competitors vying for 34 million Canadian’s hard earned cash.

Rogers, Telus, Koodo, Virgin, Wind Mobile – all nipping at Bell’s subscriber base, which forced the company to innovate and try to offer a technological edge to it’s customers that wouldn’t be available to other services.

If there weren’t other cellphone service providers in the Canadian market, Canadians would not have access to 3G or the oncoming 4G.

Bell users now have the opportunity to use the vaunted iPhone (gag me with a spoon) because Bell was forced to upgrade it’s network to compete with Rogers who was already offering iPhones.

That’s the process of competitive evolution in action.

The dinosaurs went through this hundreds of millions of years ago in our planet’s distant past, but the dinosaur that is Bell Canada simply refuses to evolve because there isn’t another corporate beastie big enough to take a bite out of it’s gnarled hide.

For this, we Canadians are in the technological third-world – which really, really sucks.

As much as we love to brag to our quarrelsome American neighbors about how we have superior, free healthcare and how we mopped the floor with them in the 2010 Olympic gold medal count, we must continuously hide our shame in regards to how friggin’ slow our internet speeds are.

I sit here in envy of whichever American cities get selected for Google’s internet service experiments that promises speeds of 1GB per second: yes, one gigabyte per second compared to my 300 kilobytes per second as I write this blog.

No, 300kbps isn’t a national average in Canada.

The average data speed in high-speed enabled communities throughout Canada is 10 megabytes per second via DSL service, 12Mbps via cable internet service – and I’ve enjoyed connection speeds of up to 5Mbps via DSL in the past, but those were anomalous and based on living in the right areas where Bell spent some extra money on their wiring .

Yes… I could subscribe to my cable company’s (Cogeco) internet service and get that 12Mbps, but there’s a gigantic catch to that blissful speed: a solid 60 gigabyte data cap – which is fairly standard amongst North American cable companies.

60GB isn’t enough by far for my demanding usage as I regularly move 200GB or so a month via gaming, uploading to social media sites like YouTube and Flickr, and downloading music/TV shows/movies.

So I’m stuck on this crappy Bell-supplied architecture.

And we, as Canadians, were stuck with the crappy, Bell-managed CTV Olympics coverage when we couldn’t turn to NBC for the same event – which was sporadic at best since NBC’s coverage was very focused on American Olympians and would skip events where the U.S. wasn’t competing, and completely blanked the Canadian cultural portion of the Closing Ceremonies.

AARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! @$#%&!

Seriously, Bell Canada… what the hell?

The next time I stop to use a pay-phone, I hope you choke to death on the two quarters.

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Oh… and that experiment and it’s purpose?

To figure out how much shit we as Canadians are willing to put up with.

And by the looks of it, Bell Canada will continue to use the Canadian market as it’s own personal outhouse.

H1N1: The Absolute Truth

I hate you.

No, not YOU.

You, over there… the idiot who’s choosing not to get the H1N1 flu shot.

The potential murderer.

Did I just call you a potential murderer?

Let me check… *scrolls up*… yes I did.

Just because you’re too stupid and selfish to take time out of your precious little life and get a needle (o noes! 0_o), you’re going to risk not only YOUR life, but possibly the life of someone else.

I mean… seriously: how freakin’ selfish is that?

You’re going to freely condemn someone else – whom chances are you don’t even know – to a possibly miserable death at the hands of a merciless virus that can’t tell good people from bad people, white people from Asian people, or intelligent people from dumbasses like yourself.

Here’s how it goes:

You get the H1N1 flu and you get sick, but not deathly ill, and you shrug it off and pat yourself on the back for knowing better than the supposed ‘scientists’.

Bravo, Oh Great And Knowledgeable One. Good for you!

You don’t feel like ass anymore, so you decide it’s okay to go out shopping for groceries and maybe hit up Blockbuster for a movie rental.

Being environmentally conscious, you don’t drive a vehicle – so you hop on the nearest city bus, passing through a small crowd of passengers until you find a seat next to some young skater kids who are making a lot of noise.

One of the kids stinks of marijuana smoke and you cough and breathe heavily trying to get the stench out of your sinuses and throat.

Once the bus rolls up to your shopping destination, you stand up and thread your way through the throng of passengers, holding on to the hand grips as you go.

You step off the bus, passing some elderly women who just finished the grocery trip.

Inside the store, you head for the produce section since you think it’s good to feed yourself lots of veggies and fruit to help your body kick the remaining effects of H1N1, picking up and examining the assorted farmed goods so you get the best specimens of Mother Earth’s bounty.

As you stroll along the aisles, you realize that you’re out of Reese Puffs!

Lucky for you, there’s a clearance sale due to a pallet of slightly squished cereal boxes. Score!

Triumphantly finding a box that’s in near perfect condition after sorting through the display pile, you head to the check out realizing your total will be less than $10 and that you have enough large coinage in your pocket to cover it.

You wait in line behind an immigrant family who is taking FOREVER to get through, and in your impatient mood, bounce the coins around in your hand while cursing Canada’s immigration policies and sighing heavily in their direction in hopes they’ll get the idea that you’re not someone who enjoys delays.

Finally, you get to the cashier and hand her your hot and sweaty toonies, loonies, and quarters and breath out deeply at the thought of freedom from this retched store!

You go outside into a gaggle of people waiting for the bus and realize it won’t be there for another half-hour at the least, which bums you out large since you just want to get your movie, go home, and veg out on the sofa while your body recuperates.

Whipping out your cell phone, you call for a taxi while an extraordinarily thin guy watches you with some disdain.

Hippie‘ you think to yourself as your bark at the hard of hearing cab dispatcher.

“Say it, don’t spray it” mutters the thin guy.

The nerve of some people!

Your cab arrives and you slide in the back seat after the driver takes your grocery bag and stows it in the trunk while making small talk, remarking you look like you were hit by a rhinoceros – to which you make a weak smile and say it’s allergies (no need to alarm people).

As the city streets roll by, you relax and rest your hand on the door’s armrest.

Yay! You’ve reached Blockbuster!

You pay the cabbie with a $20 bill that you’ve been holding on to since he drove into the plaza, and hop out as the driver pops the trunk.

With your grocery bag in hand, you head into the video store – but realize you have no idea what kind of movie you’re in the mood for – and spend the next twenty minutes strolling through the aisles as you pick up random movie cases and read the back of them in hopes of finding an inspiration.

Finally, you leave the store with Paul Blart: Mall Cop and walk to the nearest bus stop, happy that the bus will be there within minutes.

As you wait, a couple of youngish girls walk up to the stop, wearing Girl Guide uniforms and carrying a satchel of cookie boxes.

“Mint chocolate cookies? Wow… those do look good,” you hear yourself saying as you scrounge inside your wallet for a $5 bill.

The blond girl cheerily hands you the cookies as you spot the city bus droning along the street towards you.

As you get on the bus, you thank your lucky stars that it’s now time to head home and relax with the movie and cookies after a good meal.

Good story, huh? Sounds like an average day in the average life of an average person.

How many people came into contact with the H1N1 virus that you were carrying around the town while you blissfully got your errands done?

The 13-year-old skater punks? The African immigrants who aren’t normally exposed to the flu in the middle of the desert?

How about that thin guy at the bus stop who had just gone through some intense chemotherapy for his lymphoma?

Or maybe the pregnant woman who you thought was sort of stalking you at Blockbuster as she picked up movies you already looked at.

That asthmatic cabbie handled your groceries and your money before resuming his diet of coffee and donuts?

Just after you left the produce section, and HIV-positive ex-hooker handled the cantaloupes you were squeezing.

So tell me, Oh Great And Knowledgeable One: which of those people is going to pick up the bits of H1N1 you left out there in the city?

Which one of those people who are very prone to getting sick from other people’s cast-offs will have  nearly-even odds of dying?

Let’s say it’s the thin cancer patient.

He ends up in the emergency room three days later, his lungs full of fluid and his heart struggling hard to keep up – which kills him within the following 16 hours.

In the meantime, you’ve gotten right as rain and have returned to work and are still congratulating yourself on how you beat the H1N1 virus without any vaccination harshing your buzz.

See… you know better than all of the world’s scientists, immunologists, doctors, nurses, and public officials who have spent decades practicing in their respective fields.

You have the inside track on what’s REALLY going on in the medical world.

It’s all about money, right?

The GlaxoSmithKlines of the world are always on the lookout for new ways to make money – and will slyly create a massive panic around the world so they can come to the rescue with a shoddy, untested treatment based on strange technologies that probably will cause autism in children or brain damage in 20% of the adult population.

Yeah, thank god you have the internet and are subscribed to World Of Warcraft forums.

How else would you have gotten the actual facts of the H1N1 scare? I mean… all those social shut-ins living in their mother’s basements are the absolute best knowledge keepers humanity has to offer!

Oh, that’s right. You also watch Fox News on cable… and everything they report is 100% solid factual reporting.

You, your internet friends, and the talking heads on Fox News don’t need university or medical school degrees to know about the biosystems of the human organism and all  threats that the natural world presents to it.

All of you are 100% smarter!

Idiot Alert!

You, sir/madame, are an idiot.

Not just any old idiot either.

You are a fucking idiot.

A total, self-righteous whack job  – who truly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone other than themselves – that is erroneously convinced by illiterate and unknowledged sources that the H1N1 vaccine is nothing more than ill-advised voodoo.

You have been indoctrinated by one of the largest cadre of fools on the face of this planet – people akin to those who believe the world is flat and that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax.

The absolute facts about the H1N1 vaccine are these:

– the vaccine will help your body’s immune system recognize and attack the H1N1 virus

– the vaccine will help control the spread of the virus by removing your body as a potential vector (pathway) to another human

– the technology behind the vaccine is exactly the same as the yearly flu vaccine that many of you hold-outs normally get each year

– there is ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that vaccines are responsible for autism in children i.e. all supposed ‘evidence’ is   anecdotal…  the scientific equivalent of hearsay

– vaccines work! many of the world’s pathogens have been eradicated through the use of vaccines. How many people do you know that have polio or small pox?

– adjuvants added to the vaccine are nothing to be alarmed about: these additives increase your body’s awareness of the virus and boost it’s ability to create the proper antibodies

Facts about the H1N1 virus:

– people who have not received the vaccination are dying

– like many viruses, you may have the H1N1 virus in your system and not show any symptoms beyond a runny nose

– you can not contract H1N1 from eating pork products

– the virus is highly durable and can live in a dormant state on hard surfaces before accessing the human body via an orifice such as the mouth or nose

– the H1N1 virus is NOT similar to the seasonal flu viruses that people in developed countries are exposed to on a yearly basis, and therefore you are NOT vaccinated against H1N1 variants

– people born between 1917 and 1950 are more resilient against the virus (having been previously exposed) as its make-up is very similar to the 1918 Influenza that killed up to 100,000,000 people  worldwide – but are not 100% H1N1 proof.

– H1N1 is not SARS (bird flu) and you are not immune to it if you were exposed to SARS

– no geographical area is safe from H1N1 as it can survive in any climate that a human can, and it can access any environment that a human can travel to

– washing your hands is NOT a fool-proof way of protecting yourself from H1N1 – only full biohazard gear can guarantee safety from the virus

– eating healthy foods is good for the immune system and may help fight the virus, but it will NOT prevent virus infection

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All of the above facts are completely backed by empirical scientific data and can NOT be argued by anyone who does not have a degree in medicine or the applied science of immunology.

The average person with average learning is unsuited to advising you on this very important matter.

Would you consult an architect about whether you should have a heart transplant?

Is the opinion from a stockboy who works at the Mac’s Milk on the corner relevant when you’re considering radiation therapy?

Why the hell would you listen to some jackass on the internet who doesn’t have any formal medical or scientific training?

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Why are you jeopardizing other people with your own absolute stupidity?

What on Earth gives you the right to do that?

I don’t care about the rights you so callously speak about when you discuss your body.

What about the rights of the people you could infect?

Don’t they have a right to be protected from your lunacy?

People get thrown in jail for idiocy like drinking and driving because the odds state there is a good chance that they will hurt someone while operating their car under the influence of alcohol.

Why can’t we jail asinine persons such as yourself who are playing with the exact type of odds?

Some of you are so completely messed up in your head that I wish I could shake you by the shoulders, push you to the ground, and kick you until you see the error of your ways – until you admit that you’re not 25% as smart as you claim to  be.

But, man… if I had to do that to everyone of the idiots like you out there, my arms and legs would probably fall off from the strain.

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No.

All I can do is stand here on my soapbox and scream at you to absolutely no effect.

You’re perfectly happy in your ignorant bliss.

People drop dead in your community from H1N1 and you don’t get it.

So all I have to say is this:

If by some act of fate you contract H1N1 and it kills you, I will not waste ONE SINGLE SOLITARY SECOND of my life mourning for you.

I will thank whatever powers run this universe that your stupid ass will be removed from society, and that you will have been stopped from endangering the rest of the human species.

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As with those who got the vaccine, one less vector is great news.

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This rant has been aimed purely at those who have refused the H1N1 vaccine and not those who haven’t had the choice made available to them due to restriction of supply. If you or someone you know has been sick with H1N1 before the vaccine was available to you, and you would have chosen to receive the vaccine, I feel great sympathy for you.

Durrrrrr…

Hey.

How are you?

Fancy a seat?

Yes?

Good.

Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings.

No. That’s not fair.

Nobody died today (well, to be honest, averages say that 123,000 people have died today so far all around the globe) – nobody of any global importance anyhow.

However, today was the moment that a lot of us hopefuls realized that for all the good Barack Obama means to do in the world, he’s only going to accomplish maybe 40% (and that’s being generous).

Why is that?

It’s because the politicians on the other side of the aisle from his party – namely, the Republicans – will find a thousand different ways to tear the president down in the eyes of the general voting public.

For every honest and forthright statement that Obama puts forward, some Republican pundit in the back offices of Congress sends out a fax to all the other Republicans on how to disqualify what he said.

Today’s broo-ha-ha over Obama’s back to school speech aimed at STUDENTS is the most stunning example of this.

Barack Obama’s speech to America’s youth was meant to do one thing, and one thing only: encourage the students to be better.

The U.S. president is aware enough of today’s youth culture to realize that students are okay with being stupid – and decided (rightfully) that this was not acceptable in any way, shape, or form.

How can anyone fault the guy for doing something most of us over 25 would love to say today’s idiot youth?

Today’s kids are encouraged by peers – and by popular media to an extent – to be absolutely dumb-as-rocks and asinine to the point where it borders on lunacy.

How is this trend even remotely acceptable?

My fellow Canadians and I could only dream of someone of national import – someone with social clout – to take the time and branch out to the disenfranchised young people of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and other places and give them a talking to.

Someone who could pull on the collective ear of today’s public school attending young people and tell them to stop being little douche bags.

Alas… we don’t have ANYONE like that. Our prime minister is far too busy collecting knit sweaters and handing out tax breaks for the ultra-rich.

However, I’m focusing on our American neighbours today.

The Republicans have packaged their partisan politics in an easily digested package that appeals mainly to the people most likely to be the most vociferous in the media – John & Sally Six-Pack.

John and Sally are the people who most resonate with the Republican party – mostly because they are uneducated (or barely educated) rednecks who just love to see their own faces and hear their own voices on the six o’clock news – which works out extremely well for the Republican party because the incapacity for independent and rational thought makes John & Sally VERY programmable.

All the Republicans have to do is wind them up and point them in the general direction of the nearest television camera broadcasting from the field.

What else are they going to say since they can’t come up with ten intelligent words strung together? They have no choice except to say exactly what they heard from any random Republican talking head on Fox news, or heard on the radio from Rush Limbaugh.

This strategy has been used to great effect during the American health debates that are happening all over the U.S.

In this instance, however, they’ve narrowed down the subject quite a bit.

“They don’t need to be told by the president what their responsibilities are. It’s the parents’ responsibility to teach them that, not the government.”

That was the comment from an actual redneck parent (whom flunked high school and now cleans carpets) who had pulled their children on the first day of school so as not to be exposed to the evil Democrat’s clearly-socialist indoctrination attempt.

I suppose that would be a perfectly acceptable statement to make if that parent – or 60% of parents in North America – had any intention to teach their kids ANYTHING! And I do mean ANYTHING.

By and large, today’s parents can not be bothered to deal with their children in any meaningful way – whether it be hanging out with them and throwing a ball around, or taking an interest in their school studies (other than to yell “Do your homework!” up the stairs to the second floor where the kids will dutifully ignore them). Hell, sit down with your kids and play video games… because you will at least gain SOME insight into that portion of their lives.

I’m not sure who’s fault this is, really. I can only say it’s a confluence of trends that started in the 60’s and went into the 80’s – from the women’s liberation movement demanding women have equal jobs in the workplace, to the consumer society that arose from the yuppy culture which required all adults to have 9-to-5 jobs so they could keep up with the material wealth of their neighbors.

Today, parents don’t have the time to do any actual parenting – and those who do can’t be bothered.

Don’t mistake me. There are some really exceptional parents out there who are absolutely stellar at parenting – but they are just that: exceptional. They are the exception to the general status quo.

So where else are today’s kids supposed to get any sort of positive influence?

Celebrities?

If you said ‘yes’, then I must really stop and say: are you freakin’ kidding me?

Girls aspire to be Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, or Kristen Stewart – who may have a collective I.Q. of 110 all together.

Boys aspire to be 50 Cent, Eminem, or Dane Cook – and really, do any of them really rate kids looking up to them?

So, yes… I’m all for President Barack Obama – arguably the most powerful man on the planet – having a candid sit down with today’s youth and telling them to smarten the hell up.

I applaud him telling kids to stop being little dumbasses and to aspire to being something greater.

I know that somewhere out there, in today’s public school system – whether it be in Canada, America, Britain, or some other place on this planet – is a kid who’s going to make a very important discovery that will alter the direction of the human species in a positive way.

I can only hope that Obama’s speech today – or some other well-meaning talk given by someone else of gravitas to that one special kid – will fall on their ears and make them want to be that someone and reach out for their destiny.

Or… that kid can be the next idiot doing something stupid on YouTube.

idiot